"That looks awesome! How do we get there?”: exploring leisure mobility of Millennials in the City of Nanaimo

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Issue Date
2017
Authors
Le Diem Tran, Lan
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Abstract
Sustainable transportation development is among the many Global Sustainable Development goals and targets recognised by the United Nations. Identifying and understanding leisure mobility styles is one way to achieve this goal, in which the Millennial generation and emerging mid-sized cities play important roles. Nevertheless, there has been a lack of focus on Millennials in smaller cities in the field of leisure mobility research, particularly in Canada. This is a case study which explored leisure mobility styles of the Millennial generation in the City of Nanaimo for two purposes: to contribute to the knowledge base about leisure mobility in the academic world, and to help the city understand Millennials’ needs and barriers in accessing leisure in order to attract and retain these young talents. A convergent parallel mixed methods approach was implemented using three data collection methods: an online survey (N = 195 respondents), a Facebook group discussion (N = 16 participants), and a traditional focus group (N = 9 participants). Munafò (2015)’s classification of activities for leisure travel was adopted in this study: compactophile (activities done in urban settings) and naturophile (activities done in natural settings). This classification was used to test Orfeul and Soleyret (2002)’s compensation theory in leisure travel – a theory that refuted the sustainable value of compact cities with efficient public transportation as residents offset their low daily carbon footprint by travelling further away for leisure on the weekend. The results show that Millennials in Nanaimo frequently partook in compactophile activities within Nanaimo while wishing that they could participate in naturophile activities more often. One of the most prominent barriers was transportation. In order to negotiate this leisure constraint, Millennials in Nanaimo relied on social relationships, which created two interrelated leisure mobility styles: the Independents (those with a car) and the Dependents (those depending on friends with a car). The compensation theory in leisure travel within the context of Nanaimo could be neither confirmed nor refuted. However, it was clear that those living in less dense areas of the city were more mobile for leisure purposes than those living in denser areas. The results, together with the suggestions of Millennials themselves, determined that transportation played an essential role in meeting the leisure needs of this generation, which should be one of the city’s priorities in its sustainable development strategies.
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